First Cup: Monday

  • K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune: "Summer league or not, the hype machine has started for Monday's matchup in Orlando between Derrick Rose's Bulls and Michael Beasley's Heat. But there's one small problem: The top two picks in the NBA draft aren't cooperating. 'I swear I didn't even know we were playing the Heat until a reporter asked me about it,' Rose said Sunday before leaving for Orlando. 'I'm just focused on what I have to do. And I know I won't be sticking him, so it won't be anything like that.' ... 'Um, if you say so,' Beasley told reporters in Miami when asked if he'd be linked to Rose forever. 'I mean, I don't feel that every time you mention Derrick Rose's name, you've got to mention mine. Or vice versa. If people want to, they can. But I've got my career to look after, and he's got his.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "For Mario Chalmers, a 6-2 sharpshooter and defensive specialist, there's always a mission left to accomplish. He enters the NBA eager to prove that teams made a mistake when they greased his slide from mid-first round prospect to the 34th pick. Chalmers was motivated in similar fashion when he arrived as an All-American at tradition-rich Kansas to prove Alaskans got game, too. That drive was instilled by a father who spent 22 years in the Air Force and a mother who worked 20 years teaching a life skills program in an Alaska school district."

  • John Denton of Florida Today: "In addition to Rose and Beasley, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (fourth pick), New Jersey's Brook Lopez (10th pick), Indiana's Brandon Rush (13th pick), New Jersey's Ryan Anderson (21st pick), Orlando's Courtney Lee (22nd pick) and Oklahoma City's D.J. White (29th pick) are scheduled to participate. Miami's Mario Chalmers (34th pick) and New Jersey's Chris Douglas-Roberts (40th pick), the two most prominent players to slip to the second round, will also play. Sprinkle in NBA players Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Jeff Green, Marcin Gortat and Shawne Williams and the summer league is certain to produce plenty of buzz. The Rose-Beasley showcase could rival the cache of the 2003 Orlando summer league that featured the professional debuts of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, T.J. Ford and Darko Milicic."

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "This summer-league has other interesting twists: NBA assistants usually handle the teams, but rookie Bulls Coach Vinny Del Negro will be on the job. Bulls young veterans Joakim Noah, an ex-Gator, and Tyrus Thomas will play select games, giving Rose targets. Orlando assistant Patrick Ewing, who dreams of being a head coach, will direct the Magic. Magic rookie Courtney Lee will play '199 of the 200 minutes,' Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said, only half-joking. 'You know Patrick wants to win.' And no one really knows what the Oklahoma City Whatchamacallits will wear to the gym now that the SuperSonics are leaving Seattle for Oklahoma."

  • ESPN.com's Marc Stein: "As we've covered often in this cyberspace, no-trade clauses in the NBA are extremely rare. But Brand meets all the prerequisites needed to get one and join fellow Staples Center resident Kobe Bryant on the short list of players known to possess specific no-trade language in their contracts. At least eight seasons of NBA service time? Check. At least four seasons with the same team? Check. Unrestricted free agent with the right to negotiate a no-trade clause into a new contract with his old team? Check. Most NBA stars in Brand's stratosphere sign their first big-money deals well before their eighth pro season and frequently sign extensions to those big contracts as opposed to going onto the open market and then re-signing with their current team as Bryant did in the summer of 2004. Therefore, many stars are never even eligible for a no-trade clause, because the NBA does not allow such clauses to be added to contracts that are merely extended."

  • Martin Johnson of the New York Sun: "Despite the on-court assets that [Chris] Duhon brings to the Knicks, the biggest and most important aspect, once again, is the 'how,' or, put simply, the length of his contract. By filling a void without extending the Knicks' stay in salary cap purgatory, the new team president, Donnie Walsh, is walking the walk. He has spoken repeatedly of achieving cap flexibility by 2010, the summer that superstars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh can become unrestricted free agents. (While the focus has been on James, I suspect Bosh is the most likely of the three to wind up at the Garden.)"

  • Martin Frank of the Cherry Hill Courier-Post: "Boston teams have won six championships this decade. Philadelphia teams have won nine championships in 125 years, although, to put a positive spin on it, six of them have come in the last 48 years. Or, to put a negative spin on it, none of them have come in the last 25 years. That's why the red-carpet treatment for Josh Smith was not only welcomed, but necessary."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "The Mavericks must wonder whether they have legitimately passed any of the teams that finished ahead of them in the West. The LA Lakers, New Orleans, San Antonio, Utah, Houston and Phoenix all appear to be as strong as they were last season, with the possible exceptions of the declining Spurs and Suns. ... the Clippers are in the playoff conversation. So is Portland, a .500 team last season without Greg Oden playing a game. Denver remains a player, as does a suddenly improved Minnesota team. Only Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Memphis and Golden State appear destined to be on the outside looking in."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Not every Mr. Basketball in Florida ends up like AmarĂ© Stoudemire. Not every prep Class of 2005 'sure thing' can skip four-year college ball and become an NBA multimillionaire starter like Andrew Bynum, Monta Ellis or Martell Webster. Not every candidate for last month's draft with a checkered past winds up a first-round pick with a guaranteed contract like J.R. Giddens. For confirmation, explore the case of Keith Brumbaugh. It wasn't that long ago that Brumbaugh was a late first-round prospect and Giddens was a borderline second-round pick. By draft night, Giddens was the first-round choice of NBA champion Boston and Brumbaugh was undrafted."